Are you gay, straight, or bi? It seems more and more in our culture that we have to pick one of these three choices. Regardless of which label you give yourself, chances are you could be wrong, and that labeling yourself and others is harmful.
First, lets get the difference between gender and sexual preference out of the way. As explained so well by Bruce himself in his TV interviews, his gender and his sexuality are two different things. Bruce feels like a woman inside, so he labels himself as a woman. Separately to his internal feelings of being a woman, he is sexually attracted to women. His sexual desires and his feelings of being a woman are two separate things. Having been born as a man, he identifies as heterosexual.
Human sexuality doesn't work in absolutes that are as easy, neat, and clean. Straight, bisexual and gay are equivalent to “all in”, “totally out”, or “half and half”. We are essentially asking people to choose one of these three options when we use the terms gay, straight or bi. These terms are an attempt to simplify a very complicated human quality.
Our sexuality is far too immense to cover in one simple article. Human sexual preferences apply to more than just men and women and include a wide variety of different desires and activities. For the purposes of this article, we will define sexuality as our human desire for sexual preference and sexual feelings.
For those who struggle with imagining gay or bisexual sex, stop thinking of it by trying to imagine the physical qualities and techniques. I doubt you imagine the sexual intercourse of every straight couple you meet, maybe you shouldn't worry as much about how gay or bisexual people make it work.
Instead of thinking about sexuality in terms of technique, think of it as love. We don't choose who we love. We don't question heterosexual love, we shouldn't question love of any other kind either.
Psychological research tells us that our sexuality is more accurately represented by something called a Kinsey scale. The Kinsey scale rates sexuality from 0 to 6 where 0 represents exclusively straight (heterosexual), 3 represents equally straight and gay (bi-sexual), and 6 represents exclusively gay (homosexual).
The following are descriptions of the possible ratings using a Kinsey scale.
0 – Exclusively heterosexual
1 – Predominantly heterosexual but incidentally homosexual
2 – Predominantly hetrosexual but more than incidentally homosexual
3 – Equally heterosexual and homosexual
4 – Predominantly homosexual but incidentally heterosexual
5 – Predominantly homosexual but more than incidentally heterosexual
6 – Exclusively homosexual
As you can see, this is much more complicated than just straight, gay, or bi. If you or a loved one are struggling with one of these three labels, help encourage them to accept their feelings for men, women, or both, at any rate or intensity. Discourage them from using a label. If they feel compelled to label themselves, refer them to a Kinsey scale.
Using a label forces us with societal pressures, and internal self pressure, to live up to the expectations of that label. So someone who is mostly straight, but has a tiny bit of attraction towards the same sex might spend their entire lives hating part of themselves for being “wrong”. Or maybe they spend their lives ignoring it and it festers and grows. Either way, using an incorrect label is hurtful. This is evident in gay children who grow up believing they are bad people because their families believe that being gay is only for bad people.
Stop trying to label. The only truly acceptable labels for us and for our sexuality are “I am me” and “you are you”. Or to quote a famous sailor “I yam what I yam”.
Photo by © Sbukley | Dreamstime.com - Bruce Jenner,G4 Photo
Written by Brad Messenger, LMSW.